Updated: Apr 20, 2021
Here is a look at the Athearn GP38-2 locomotive with DCC and Tsunami 2 sound in HO scale.
Ok, first let's do a quick unboxing. The main locomotive box is shipped with an outer layer of cardboard which helps protect the packaging which is nice.
On the inside, we have the usual paperwork, with diagrams of all the locomotive parts. Note that this diagram shows the parts for all the different versions so your version won't include all the parts shown.
The manual is nice and includes maintenance tips, DCC function tables, and a table of CV values.
The locomotive itself is in a plastic case surrounded by foam, and so is very well protected. This is the Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern railroad version which I picked up since I had not seen one before and I remember the railroad from growing up in suburban Chicago.
These Athearn locomotives are available in DC and DCC versions and the DCC versions are dual-mode decoders and run on DC as well. Lots of great details are added including windshield wipers, scale handrails, sander lines, and coupler cut levers.
These units have LED lighting, and of course, have all-wheel electrical pickup and all-wheel drive. The Tsunami 2 sound board also operates in DC, though you have a more limited set of sound functions in DC.
This EJ&E version also includes a strobe light on top of the cab and some other details specific to this prototype. There are a few other road names currently available, but Athearn is going to be releasing additional road names in 2021 in their next production run.
Here are a few more views of the locomotive so you can see some of the great detail these units offer.
Note that the color is off on the above image and should be more orange in color.
You can watch the video below to hear the sound on this locomotive and to watch it operate over some turnouts.
This Athearn unit had no trouble navigating across a series of turnouts on my switching layout that feature unpowered frogs. I have had one or two brief sound interruptions while running across the turnouts at slow speeds, though I think those were actually caused by the locomotive briefly shorting out on the turnout and not from the unpowered frog, I'm not sure. I have an Atlas GP38-2 that always shorts out and has the sound reset on these Micro Engineering turnouts. This Athearn unit performed far better and usually has had no trouble at all.
The only thing I don't like about these units are the McHenry couplers, but those are very easy to change out to Kadee couplers or whatever other brand you want to use. The McHenry couplers work fine, but I find coupling and uncoupling easier and more reliable when using all the same brand of couplers, and all of my rolling stock uses Kadee couplers.
Anyway, that is a look at the Athearn Genesis GP38-2. This is a great locomotive that runs smoothly, is highly detailed, and has great sound. If you are in the market for a GP38-2, be sure to check out these Athearn units. There are more road names coming out in 2021, and you can see current availability at the Athearn or Horizon Hobby links below.
Athearn GP38-2 from Horizon Hobby: https://bit.ly/2MmT16a
Athearn Page with more info: http://www.athearn.com/Search/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=GP38-2
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